Course Descriptions

730:513 Seminar in Logic and Natural Languages: Quantification Logic and Psych

  • Semester: Fall 2022
  • Instructor: Pietroski, Paul
  • Description:

    Rough plan: about half the sessions on each of two parts, as indicated below, with emphasis on the bits in bold. The main reading for the first part will be Frege’s Foundations of Arithmetic, supplemented by some of his later articles and a few pieces by others (e.g., Jeff Horty). If you want a sense of the issues that will come up, apart from discussion of how arithmetic is related to logic, see this essay on Logical Form. If you want a sense of the studies that I have in mind under (2d), go here; though I hope to have some new data to report on by that point in the fall.

    1. Frege on Logic and Foundations of Arithmetic
      a. Why is this thought to be a big deal, at least among philosophers in the “analytic” tradition?
      b. Frege’s rejection of traditional conceptions of logic and “logical form”
      c. Frege’s conception of propositions (potential premises/conclusions, Gedanken, Thoughts)
      d. his conception of “analysis” and his proposed analyses of axioms for arithmetic
      e. Frege’s deeply relational conception of logic, quantification, and logical form
      f. questions about how “ordinary” sentences (e.g., of English) are related to propositions

    2. 2. Psychology, Quantification, and Quantificational Determiners
      a. the standard textbook account of what words like ‘every’ and ‘most’ mean
      b. an associated neo-Fregean conception of sentences like ‘every dog chased most of the cats’
      c. brief tour of some “Number Sense” literature from psychology
      d. some studies of how words like ‘every’, ‘each’, ‘all’, and ‘most’ are understood
      e. an unrelational (neo-Aristotelian) conception of ordinary sentences
      f. questions about how these sentences are related to propositions

    As you might expect from the highlighted bits, part of the goal is to compare and contrast (at least) two different notions of analysis: one that is explicitly offered as a normative proposal, connected to logic, as opposed to any claim about ordinary human psychology; and one that is explicitly offered as an empirical hypothesis about certain animals, drawing on various branches of cognitive science, as opposed to a claim about ideal thinkers. But the assumption will not be that these are entirely distinct enterprises, or that there are no other notions of analysis worth thinking about. On the contrary, these will be topics of discussion and possible paper topics. My hope is that some of the broader questions can be clarified by focusing on specific case studies where our ignorance, regarding the relevant norms and facts, is less extensive than usual. I have had queries about whether there will be a Zoom feed for auditors. For various reasons, I’m inclined to not have the Rutgers seminar be hybrid in this way. But if there is sufficient interest from people who can’t attend the live sessions, I’m open to the possibility of doing an informal and slightly condensed zoom version late some afternoon. I did something like this in the fall of 2020, rerunning a variant of a Rutgers seminar from the previous spring; see here. That turned out to be a lot of fun. If you would be interested in this, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I’ll see what’s possible. (Also, if I do end up Zooming the seminar on Wednesday mornings, I can let you know.)

  • Credits: 3
  • Syllabus Disclaimer: The information on this syllabus is subject to change. For up-to-date course information, please refer to the syllabus on your course site (e.g. Canvas) on the first day of class.